BEWARE! Parents cautioned vs toxic substances in school supplies

BUY WISELY. To avoid exposing children to health-damaging chemicals such as lead and cadmium, parents are being urged to pick back-to-school essentials – bags, pencils, notebooks, etc. – that are not only affordable but also non-toxic. Classes in public elementary and high schools resume on June 3, 2019. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – Do not check just the prices. Parents should also look for the “non-toxic” labels when shopping for their children’s school supplies, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Iloilo.

School supplies must pass the “allowed toxicity level” of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said said DTI-Iloilo’s Consumer Protection Division officer-in-charge Dorita Chavez.

Classes in public elementary and secondary schools resume this June 3.

“Parents must exercise their rights to choose,” said Chavez. “Visit various stores. Check the labels.”

Aside from DTI, an environmental and children’s health advocacy group also alerted consumers against purchasing school supplies laced with hazardous substances such as cadmium and lead.

The EcoWaste Coalition emphasized the importance of picking back-to-school essentials that are not only affordable but also non-toxic to avoid children’s potential exposure to health-damaging chemicals.

Lead, a hazardous substance linked to learning and behavioral problems, is prohibited in the production of school supplies as per Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, or the “Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.”

Cadmium, on the other hand, is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as “carcinogenic to humans” and is also recognized as a reproductive and developmental toxin associated with reduced birth weight, premature birth, stillbirth, spontaneous abortion and birth defects in humans, as well with behavioral and learning disabilities.

“While many school supplies are generally harmless, there are some items that contain undisclosed chemicals that are banned or restricted in children’s toys because of their harmful effects on children’s health and the environment,” said Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition.

Schools and the products that children use should be totally safe from these chemicals that can put their development and health at risk, he stressed.

For children’s health and safety, the EcoWaste Coalition urged parents to shun school supplies that are painted unless certified as lead-safe, those made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic as these may contain toxic additives, and those that are already banned by the FDA.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has tagged lead and cadmium in the list of “10 chemicals of major public health concern.”

As stated by WHO, lead “is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems.”

The WHO also warned “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage.”

EcoWaste Coalition also urged manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of school supplies, as well as government regulators, to ensure that school supplies sold in the market are 100 percent safe for children to use and are properly labeled./PN


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